October 28, 2009

Give Thanks for a Crop of New Classes

Attend Pinellas County Extension’s November Classes

Pinellas County Extension offers residents a wide variety of classes to help them make sustainable decisions.

Be sure to check out our lunch break on-line classes, Solutions in 30. Each week this month you will learn or rediscover ways to make your life Greener

Solutions in 30:
November 4 - When Vegetable Gardens Go Bad
November 18 - Protect your Credit During the Holidays
November 25- Safety Net

Commercial (Pesticide/FNGLA/ISA) CEUs:
November 4 - Best Management Practices
November 16 - Best Management Practices @ PTEC in St Petersburg
November 20 - Limited Pesticide License Training and Testing

Lawn & Garden:
November 7 - Compost Happens
November 7 - The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Vegetable Garden
November 11 - Orchids @ Palm Harbor Library

Sustainable Living:
November 17- The Basics of Climate Change
November 17- Green Job Market in Pinellas County

Pathways Adventure Series:
November 7 - Going Native

You can register for classes on-line at Please look for the “Online Class Registration” button on the right hand side near the top of the page.

October 26, 2009

An Ocean of Change

Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent, Pinellas County Extension

There are many environmental impacts attributed to climate change. As scientists begin to understand all the impacts caused by the burning of fossil fuels and build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere, changes are occurring within our oceans.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been researching the impact of CO2 on marine ecosystems. The oceans have absorbed about 50% of the CO2 released from the burning of fossil fuels. This causes chemical reactions that lower ocean pH (measurement of acidity). This has caused an increase in acidity of about 30% since the start of the industrial age through a process known as “ocean acidification.” A growing number of studies have demonstrated adverse impacts on marine organisms.

When CO2 reacts with seawater, the reduction in seawater pH reduces the availability of carbonate ions, which play an important role in shell formation for marine organisms such as corals, marine plankton, and shellfish. This could have profound impacts on some of the most fundamental biological processes of the sea in coming decades. Some of the smaller calcifying organisms are important food sources for higher marine organisms. Declining coral reefs due to increases in ocean temperature and acidification would have negative impacts on tourism and fisheries. Abundance of commercially important shellfish species may also decline and negative impacts on finfish may occur. This rapidly emerging scientific issue and possible ecological impacts have raised serious concerns across the scientific and fisheries resource management communities.

As human processes of energy production and transportation continue to build CO2 levels in the atmosphere, scientists are uncertain what the continuing impacts of ocean acidification will be. We do know that CO2 will continue to build up and oceans will continue to absorb it without intervention. The U.S. is the third largest seafood consumer in the world. Coastal and marine commercial fishing generates as much as $30 billion per year and nearly 70,000 jobs. Healthy coral reefs are the foundation of many of these viable fisheries, as well as the source of tourism and recreation revenues.

Reduction of the use of fossil fuels is a key to reducing the impacts of climate change. Energy conservation, renewable energy production, new transportation options, and better gas mileage for cars are just a few of the solutions. Preserving the health of our oceans is critical to maintaining critical food production for the world.

Climate Change Basics Webinar: November 17, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm – On-Line Registration

NOAA Ocean Acidification -
What is Ocean Acidification?
EPA Climate Change

October 6, 2009

Green at Work: Special Online Series, October, 2009

Join us every Wednesday in October from 12:15-12:45 for an informative series of presentations on being green at work. Experts from various Pinellas County Government departments will share information and tips on how to reduce your environmental impact at work. Many of us are already in the habits of saving water, electricity and recycling at home, but those same practices are just as important in the workplace. Problem is, there is often a lack of resources and commitment in a shared environment. These free presentations will help identify barriers to green practices and suggest ways to overcome them.

On October 7th join Pinellas County Utilities Solid Waste education specialist Tom Roberts for “Cutting Waste at Work.” PC Utilities already has a successful and popular program of the same name in place, and this is available to businesses throughout the county. Tom will explain how this free program works, and will also review the updated Pinellas County Recycling Program.

Some of the benefits of Cutting Waste at Work include: saving money by lowering disposal costs, enhancing your company’s image by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and improving environmental quality by reducing litter and pollution.

Pinellas County Extension Urban Sustainability Specialist Vestina F. Crayton will provide research-based insight on green purchasing at the office on October 14th. Facts about the value of using green products, how to identify a green product and what the real costs of common materials used at work will be revealed.

These live, online classes are interactive, and you will be able to ask specific questions of our experts throughout.

Are you aware of the air quality in your office or workplace? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90% of our time indoors, yet the quality of the indoor environment is often overlooked. One of the factors that contribute to the quality of indoor air is the presence of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. In addition, handling of these materials can cause problems. Rodney Bolt, Safety Specialist with Pinellas County’s Risk Management Department will provide an overview of where hazardous chemical may be hiding in your workplace, how to safely store, handle and dispose of them, and how to avoid having them in the first place!

On October 28th, James Stevenson, Pinellas County Extension Urban Sustainability Specialist will cover energy conservation in the workplace. Did you know that a PC left on overnight wastes about $50 a year? How many PCs are in your office? Do the math and imagine what you could do with that saved money!

To register for these classes click the “Online Class Registration” button on the front page of and select the “Solutions in 30” tab. You will be walked-through the easy registration process for each class you wish to attend.

We recommend signing-on about 15 minutes prior to the class’ starting time in order to make adjustments to your PC or Mac’s volume settings (you will need speakers or headphones to hear this presentation.)

We look forward to welcoming you to our Green Office Series.

October 5, 2009

4-H National Youth Science Day

By Andrew Yuan, 4-H Youth Mentor, Pinellas County Extension
Next Sunday marks the start of National 4-H Week, the one week out of the year where 4-H is given even more attention and extra celebration. The event is from October 4th to October 10th so mark your calendars.

If you don’t already know, 4-H is a national youth organization dedicated to teaching youth invaluable life skills with a focus on “hands-on” learning. With a motto of “to make the best better” and the popular slogan of “learn by doing” the Florida 4-H program has been going strong for 100 years with the celebration of the Florida 4-H Centennial this year of 2009. 4-H has always been evolving with the times which can clearly be seen with its most recent initiative of the 4-H SET programming which consists of curriculum and events focused on science, engineering, and technology. The 4-H SET programming is still reaching numbers of about 5 million youth a year after its launch and a new curriculum developed by the University of Florida titled “Butterfly Wings” was recently released. The new curriculum teaches youth ages 9-13 about environmental science, citizen science, butterfly biology, identification, habitats, and monitoring.

National 4-H Week will also be off to an interesting start with the 4-H Emblem making its debut appearance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race, sported on the back of car driven by Jeff Gordon. This exciting event is just of the tip of the week’s celebration. The real highlight of the week will be the highly anticipated second annual

4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) on October 7, 2009. This one day out of the year exemplifies all of the goals of the 4-H SET initiative as youth in 4-H all around the country do the same experiment to learn about a relevant topic. This year’s experiment is called “Biofuel Blast.” Youth all around the country will have the opportunity to learn about alternative energy sources, an extremely important topic in the current global situation. Through the experiment, youth will be making their own biofuel, ethanol, through the simple reaction of yeast and sugars. The main materials for the experiment are balloons, yeast, a plastic container, and corn syrup. Complete kits were available through the National 4-H Mall for any 4-H groups interested in the experiment but the procedure can even be carried out safely from the home with all materials available in local grocery stores.

4-H is well on its way to another successful National Youth Science Day and another successful year with National 4-H Week and new developments always on the horizon.

National 4-H Website
“Butterfly Wings” Curriculum News
4-H Emblem NASCAR News
4-H National Youth Science Day